The Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela has lashed out at the report made by the Minister of Police, Mr Nkosinathi Nhleko regarding the upgrades that were made to the residence of the President of the Republic of South Africa, Jacob Zuma at his Nkandla rural home in KwaZulu Natal. Thuli Madonsela’s words were contained on a report that she was presenting in response to the Minister’s report which was presented in parliament on Thursday.
Minister Nhleko had been tasked with establishing whether some upgrades that had been put up at President Zuma’s Nkandla home could actually be classified as security upgrades. In his determination, Nathi Nhleko concluded that President Zuma did not need to pay back any amount to the state coffers as all the upgrades being questioned were, indeed, security upgrades. He found, among other things, that the fire-pool and the swimming pool which could be used in the process of firefighting was therefore a security feature. In addition, the animal enclosure, which comprised a chicken run and a cattle kraal would keep the animals away from the security infrastructure. Another feature that was qualified by the minister’s report as a security feature was the oil retention wall and/or “amphitheatre”. The report said that the clear security purpose of the amphitheater was as an assembly point for the Zuma family and other homestead dwellers. It was also found that the visitor’s centre would serve to accommodate the president’s confidential visitors. As a result of the physical and information security that was necessary for such visitors, this could then be also classified as a security feature.
Commenting on the Minister’s report, Thuli Madonsela said that there were several inaccuracies in that report. She says that the Minister’s report incorrectly states that the Public Protector’s report had said that no funds had been used to build the president’s houses. However, she argues, her report had stated in paragraph 10.10.1.1: “President Zuma told Parliament that his family had built its own houses and the state had not built any for it or benefited them. This was not true. It is common cause that in the name of security, government built for the President and his family at his private residence a Visitor’s Centre…” This is important, she argues, because the Visitor’s Centre itself is a house, a double story building. Quoting paragraph 10.3.2 of her report which says: “Measures that should never have been implemented as they are neither provided for in the regulatory instruments, particularly the Cabinet Policy of 2003, the Minimum Physical Security Standards and the SAPS Security Evaluation Reports, nor reasonable, as the most cost effective to meet incidental security needs, include… a swimming pool…”, the Public Protector said that it was incorrect for Minister Nhleko’s report to suggest that report had found that there was no need for a water source to help in the event a fire broke at the President’s residence.
In summary, the Public Protector stated that she stood by her report, adding that “As far as the Public Protector understands the Constitution and the law, neither the executive nor the legislature can override the findings of any independent institution established under Chapter 9 of the Constitution, replacing such determinations with their won. This is why the Constitution states in Section 181(2) that these institutions are independent and subject only to the Constitution and the law.” In addition, she argued that the Minister had only made random and adverse comments on isolated aspects of her report. Commenting on her next course of action, Madonsela said that she would write to the President, highlighting the limitations to the report by the Minister of Police.